Crossing the Streams is our series of guides looking at all the offerings hitting the big streaming services each month. This time we’re checking out the new Amazon Prime arrivals for July 2021 including a new Amazon Original Movie, some Hitchcock thrillers, and more!
Amazon Prime Pick of the Month for July 2021
I’m probably going to regret this pick, but big-budget sci-fi/action films with a time travel bent are a pleasure we don’t see played out on the screen often enough. So yes, my pick of the month is The Tomorrow War. Director Chris McKay’s debut may have been a small drama, but he’s become best known for animated comedies straddling the line between audience age groups. This is decidedly not that and instead seems aimed at fans of the still fantastic Edge of Tomorrow (2014) as an unprepared character is thrown into a war against an alien enemy. Of course, Chris Pratt is no Tom Cruise, but here’s hoping he doesn’t get in the way of the action and fun.
Horror from the 00s
Remakes are a fact of life, and few genres are as targeted for redos as horror. There are numerous reasons, but the big one comes down to a balance between their inexpensive nature and the usual strength of their opening weekend box office. Their ubiquity doesn’t guarantee quality, though, as evidenced by a pair of remakes from the aughts. First up is When a Stranger Calls (2006), one of a handful of PG-13 reboots of R-rated originals, and while director Simon West delivers a solid-looking thriller it’s a mostly ineffective redo. The 1979 original features one of the best openings in horror cinema, and the reboot’s decision to stretch that to feature-length absolutely neuters the tension, suspense, and terror in dramatic ways. It’s ultimately… okay I guess
1987’s The Stepfather is a terrific little chiller about a psychopath played to perfection by Terry O’Quinn. The Stepfather (2009) casts Dylan Walsh in the role, and that’s really all that needs to be said about that… but I’ll say a little more. Jill Schoelen makes for a terrific protagonist in the original, and the dynamic between a teenage girl and her new stepfather finds real menace in his puritanical stance — which makes it another poor choice for the remake to focus on a teen boy. Penn Badgley isn’t bad in the role, but the conflict is lesser. Add in the PG-13 rating and the director of the equally forgettable Prom Night (2008) remake and you once again have a barely competent disappointment.
Premonition (2007) is often mistaken for a remake of 2004’s Japanese film of the same name, but while both involve characters who suddenly start “seeing” events that haven’t happened yet their plots are distinct enough. The Japanese film is the better of the two, but the Sandra Bullock-led US release manages some thrills as she struggles to find the reason for her visions. She’s ultimately the big draw here, but I’d be remiss in not mentioning that it’s a rare studio film delivering something of a downer ending. Sure, horror movies often end with a jump scare suggesting uncertainty, but this one lets the bleak truth sit there for a little bit.
MCU Stars Outside the MCU
They say in the future every actor will land a role in a Marvel film for at least fifteen minutes, and it’s hard to argue with that prediction. Chris Evans was just another charismatic young actor when he was cast in Not Another Teen Movie (2001), but he shows off all the charm and wit that eventually became the template for Captain America. The film is a spoof of YA movies, from the comedies to the romances, and it’s legitimately funny throughout. It takes aim at some easy targets, but it shows an approach that’s smart as often as it’s dumb. If you’ve yet to watch it or haven’t seen it in years, it’s definitely a comedy worth checking out.
Kat Dennings is a somewhat minor player in the MCU having appeared in just the first two Thor films before popping up on the small screen in WandaVision (2021), but she’s always a welcome comedic presence. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2008) casts her on a rare lead role for a sweet, humorous romantic comedy about two teens on the cusp of adulthood. It’s a smartly constructed romance condensed into one night complete with action, misunderstandings, eccentric characters, and more. Michael Cera is a perfect compliment to Dennings, and the pair deliver YA gold together.
While those two films feature MCU actors before they became superheroes (or hero adjacent), Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) casts Tom Hiddleston at the peak of his popularity having starred the year before in the box-office behemoth The Avengers (2012). He’s arguably only gotten bigger since as evidenced by his new series, Loki. Hiddleston plays a vampire in a centuries-old romance with another bloodsucker — played by Tilda Swinton, who also touched the MCU with Doctor Strange (2016) — and the pair see their eternal lives interrupted by both the slow march of societal change and the arrival of a younger vampire. It’s a lush, casual film that succeeds more in its atmosphere than its narrative, but it’s hard to argue with the result.
A Hitchcock Double Feature
While many of Alfred Hitchcock’s classics have helped inspire later films, from the killer in Psycho (1960) to the mistaken identity of North by Northwest (1959), it’s the high concept of Rear Window (1954) that we see clearly again and again. James Stewart plays a wheelchair-bound man who passes the time looking out his window at neighbors and strangers, but things take a turn when he witnesses a murder. Or did he? It’s a smart, suspenseful tale that sees the master filmmaker take full advantage of locales and viewpoints to build tension through to its thrilling finale.
James Stewart returns for Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958), but instead of a tightly paced thriller, the pair deliver a dreamier, more sumptuous tale of love, loss, and obsession. There are still thrills, of course, as Stewart’s retired detective finds himself embroiled in a mystery involving a woman — two women? — and his own disorienting reaction to heights. While this should be no one’s first entry into Hitchcock’s filmography, it’s a film well worth seeing for both its ambition and execution. It’s a different kind of thriller, one more patient than most studio films would dare today, and it’s one you won’t forget anytime soon.
The Complete Amazon Prime List for July 2021
|7/1||30 Days Of Night (2007)|
|30 Minutes Or Less (2011)|
|Absence Of Malice (1981)|
|Across The Universe (2007)|
|The Adventures Of Elmo In Grouchland (1999)|
|Anacondas: The Hunt For The Blood Orchid (2004)|
|The Animal (2001)|
|Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels Of A Tribe Called Quest (2011)|
|Big Fish (2003)|
|Crimson Tide (1995)|
|An Education (2009)|
|The Family Stone (2005)|
|Fat Albert (2004)|
|Frozen River (2008)|
|The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)|
|Green Lantern (2011)|
|Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner (1967)|
|I, Robot (2004)|
|The International (2009)|
|Irrational Man (2015)|
|Jack And Jill (2011)|
|Julie & Julia (2009)|
|The Lady In The Van (2006)|
|The Last King Of Scotland (2006)|
|Marie Antoinette (2006)|
|The Mask Of Zorro (1998)|
|The Messengers (2007)|
|Midnight In Paris (2011)|
|Money Train (1995)|
|Nick And Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2008)|
|Not Another Teen Movie (2001)|
|On The Waterfront (1954)|
|Only Lovers Left Alive (2014)|
|Open Season (2006)|
|Phone Booth (2003)|
|Ramona And Beezus (2010)|
|Rear Window (1954)|
|Riding In Cars With Boys (1988)|
|School Daze (1988)|
|The Stepfather (2009)|
|To Rome With Love (2012)|
|Underworld: Evolution (2006)|
|When A Stranger Calls (2006)|
|The Wild Thornberrys Movie (2002)|
|Your Highness (2011)|
|7/2||The Tomorrow War (2021)||Amazon Original Movie|
|7/5||Surf’s Up (2007)|
|7/9||Luxe Listing Sydney – Season 1||Amazon Original Series|
|Our Friend (2019)|
|7/15||El Cid – Season 2||Amazon Original Series|
|7/16||Making the Cut – Season 2||Amazon Original Series|
|Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day (2008)|
|7/30||The Pursuit of Love – Season 1||Amazon Original Series|